👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Paul Manafort was wiretapped following an FBI investigation in 2014, and the surveillance continued through this year (albeit interrupted). A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was originally granted for Manafort’s work for the former Ukrainian government and later discontinued due to lack of evidence. A second FISA warrant—concerning the Russia investigation—was obtained at some point last year. The details of the recorded communications have been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. (CNN)
2/ Federal agents raided Manafort’s Virginia home in July, and Mueller’s prosecutors told Manafort they planned to indict him. Agents picked Manafort’s lock, took binders and copied computer files, and photographed his belongings. The scope of the investigation also includes questions of money-laundering and foreign lobbying. Mueller’s team has subpoenaed several Manafort associates. (New York Times)
3/ Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump said the United States may have to “totally destroy” North Korea if the country refuses to back down from its nuclear rhetoric. “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” said Trump. In his 41-minute speech, he also called out Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba. (Reuters)
4/ Trump is paying legal fees related to the Russia investigation with RNC and reelection campaign funds. Under the FEC, the move is legal, but Trump is the first president in modern history to use campaign funding in this manner. Trump lawyer John Dowd told reporters the question of financing Trump’s legal bills was “none of your business.” (Reuters)
5/ The Trump administration rejected a Department of Health and Human Services study demonstrating the positive economic impact of refugees. The draft report said refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” over the past decade, amounting to a net gain of $63 billion. The White House is seeking a rationale for reducing the number of refugees the country accepts. (New York Times)
6/ Trump said the United States is “prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists.” Speaking at a United Nations dinner in New York, Trump argued the United States must “take important steps to hold the regime accountable,” referencing the erosion of democracy under President Nicolás Maduro. (Politico)
7/ Trump Jr. and Kellyanne Conway are dropping their Secret Service detail. The two cases are unrelated: Trump Jr. seeks more privacy, and Conway was only temporarily covered due to threats she received earlier this year. (New York Times)
8/ The Senate Intelligence Committee canceled an interview with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen was set to deny he’d ever “engaged with, been paid by, paid for or conversed with” Russia to interfere with the election. Cohen’s lawyer said they look forward to “voluntarily cooperating with the House committee and with anyone else who has an inquiry in this area.” (Washington Post)
poll/ Most voters are happy with the ideological positions of their political parties. Despite the pervasive idea that parties are embroiled in internal wars, 60 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans believe their party is “about right.” (Morning Consult/Politico)
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